Things the Non
Things the Non-custodial Parent
can do to Stay in Touch with the Kids
By Carol Ann Wilson
1. E-Mail - If your kids have access to a
computer, get them their own e-mail addresses and send them encouragement,
jokes, and overall sharing via cyberspace. Don't forget: Most libraries have
computers if you or your kids don't - they usually have some restrictions on how
long you can use their e-mail system, so check it out.
2. Call regularly - Ask the custodial parent if there are
better times then others - i.e., whether he or she is trying to put into place
specific homework and mealtime slots.
3. Use Tapes - Kids are used to listening to audiotapes. Young
ones love to hear Mom or Dad read stories to them. Tell jokes and riddles. Teens
are into music - get a favorite group (assuming it's music that is OK with you),
tape a lead introduction from you and then re-tape the actual music tape after
your intro. Even if you only live a short distance from your kids, having your
voice at their fingertips is a big plus.
4. Show Up - Remember the movie Liar Liar? All the kid
wanted was for his dad to stop making promises that he was going to pick him up,
only to be a no-show. Make ongoing "show-up" times and dates with your kids,
then follow through. The only valid excuse is death and dismemberment!
5. Schedule nonevents - This is time just for you and your kid.
If you have more than one, this is one-on-one time. Listen, listen, listen.
6. No-cost events - Everyone hears of the Disneyland Mom or
Dad. Sure, kids love the amusement park scene, but what they really love is time
with you. That doesn't cost money. Fly a kite, pack a picnic, go to the park,
even have a tea party. Enlist your kids and have them each design their
7. Attend school events - Kids go to school. If you live
anywhere near them, so should you. Class activities, awards, sporting events,
you name it - get involved. School is the single area where kids spend most of
their time outside of sleeping. On the outside, they may act like it's hokey
when you show up; on the inside, they are pleased.
8. Become a soccer Mom or Dad - Or baseball - whatever their
sport or activity is. Slice the oranges for them, pack a thermos of coffee for
you - it's another way to keep the connection going.
9. Create their space - Kids need to know that they have their
own space at your place. This means sleeping and playing. Yep, this means
duplicate toys, clothes, combs, and toothbrushes or any other items that are
kept for their next stay. Not having to bring a suitcase means that they are not
10. Bite your tongue - No matter how ticked you are, don't
knock the other parent when with or speaking on the phone. Kids shouldn't be the
vent target. Period.
11. Cheer them on and be generous with your bravos - Victories
come in small steps. Kids need ongoing encouragement from both parents.
12. Keep up with schoolwork - Be a research source for special
projects; brainstorm with them on how to present them.
13. Get a joke or riddle book - Kids love to laugh, and so
should you. They love jokes at their respective ages, even the corny ones.